Rounding Up The First Future Focus Event


14th October 2022

Graphic of The Future Focus Event featuring Agilent, GERSTEL, LECO and Syft Logos

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted the first Future Focus event here in Cambridge.


A big thank you to everyone who contributed with talks, insightful questions and simply making the trip down to be with us.


We’ve put together a few things we learned.


We are social creatures


For starters, it was a real pleasure to meet people again. This was the first in-person event we’ve hosted since before the pandemic so it was genuinely lovely to get face to face with people for the first time (or for the first time in ages!).


Online events have been a valuable stand-in but nothing beats getting a load of people in a room with plenty of snacks and caffeinated drinks to talk science.


We take great pride in our application lab so it was great to show that off as well!


Diversity of thought is key to a successful event


One of our unique strengths as a company is the diversity of the work we do and the innovation it leads to. We tried to reflect this at Future Focus.


As well as our team sharing their work, we had external speakers from our key partners contributing to the event.


We also had speakers from academia which brought a spirit of knowledge-sharing and generosity you don’t always get from commercially run events.


This diversity of thought also allows people to learn of approaches from outside their specific area of analysis. For instance, implementing QuEChERS – a well-established technique in the food industry – into environmental screening. An elegant and simple solution to a complex problem.


There is a real hunger to make labs greener


One of the standout aspects from the event was the response to the AGREE-prep software, a new proposed metric to assess the greenness of your sample preparation. It is clear that everyone wants to do their bit in making analytical chemistry greener. Hence, rigorous metrics for measuring the impact of the different stages of the analytical workflow. It is a promising first step in the right direction towards improved laboratory sustainability.


We were delighted to hear people’s excitement at implementing this metric to highlight the benefits of an automated approach to sample preparation over some of the more wasteful manual methods of the past.


Hopefully this way of thinking will catch on industry-wide. We’ll certainly play our part in promoting it.


It is not easy to keep up with the pace of change in our industry


The speed and agility of companies and academic institutions often out-strips that of regulators who rely on historical information when producing guidelines for monitoring contaminants and recommending analytical methodologies.


During Future Focus, we learnt about new classes of compounds potentially harmful to biota and humans that are currently absent from the regulatory watch lists.


There is a real opportunity for regulatory organisations to tap into the innovative work being done in this space to ensure they are asking the right questions of industry.


We all need feedback to improve


These types of events are so useful to put ideas into the world, get feedback from different backgrounds and see if there are ways to improve the current ways of operating.


Feedback is also key to us improving as a company. We’ve long been conducting customer surveys but speaking candidly face to face is always best.


As you have no doubt noticed, we’ve been going through a transitionary period over the last year as we grow as a company and try to reach our full potential in the Element family.


This has come with its own set of challenges, some obvious to us, others less so. This event was an excellent opportunity for us to hear honest feedback on the service we provide to you in an environment dedicated to improvement and progress. We have taken it onboard.


If there is anything you’d like to hear more about from the agenda, just get in touch.